In Canberra on Saturday, Australia’s new prime leader honored Queen Elizabeth amid festivities for her 70 years on the throne and rekindled debate over the country becoming a republic.
Anthony Albanese, whose center-left Labor Party defeated the conservatives in a general election on May 21, renamed Aspen Island in the capital to Queen Elizabeth II Island, calling it a “fitting compliment” to the monarch.
At a ceremony in Canberra, Albanese stated, “Today we commemorate her long life and 70 years of service to Australia and the Commonwealth, including no fewer than 16 trips to our shores.”
Albanese joined more than 50 Commonwealth leaders in complimenting the queen during her Platinum Jubilee festivities earlier this week, but said that Australia’s relationship with the monarchy has grown, sparking discussion over the country’s future as a republic.
On Tuesday, Albanese re-ignited debate over whether Australia should become a republic by appointing the country’s first “assistant minister for the republic” to his ministry.
In Australia, which was colonized by the British in 1788 and is now a crucial Commonwealth member, debate over whether the country should become a republic has raged for decades. Australia’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth II.
A national referendum on the topic in 1999 resulted in a 55 percent to 45 percent vote in favor of retaining the status quo.
Albanese has shown support for republicanism in the past, but his administration is anticipated to wait until a second term to fight for a formal rupture from the monarchy.